It’s Just A Game

Hello again, friends.

Why is it a bad thing that someone can be emotionally invested in a game?

I’m not talking about fantasizing at all times of the day about their character and how it pertains to any situation, or anything really above and beyond the norms of enjoyment, but more along the line of what we bloggers feel about the games we blog about. There is a very real line between being obsessed with something and having an investment in it – this is a line some of us skate daily with anything we do and being able to straddle and ride that line for months and months are what separate some of us from the people who Need Help. After all, to blog is to love something enough to want to write about it (whether it be general life, a particular way of doing things, or any hobby you can think of), right? So there can be a general consensus that if you write often or even not so often about anything (for this discussion I’ll be referring to a game most of us know: World of Warcraft) you have investment in it, you want to think about it, you are involved in this game to a degree most are not.

I have spent a lot of time in World of Warcraft for the years I’ve been playing it doing different things: sometimes I raided, sometimes I PVP’d, sometimes I did daily quests, and other times I did none of those things but still logged onto the game. If I added up the /played time of all of my characters I would reach a number that branches out into a number of months. Therefor, friends, I have an investment in this game: that is Time. I have spent a lot of Time in this game, engrossed in the lore, swallowed up by the people I’ve met and the digital places I’ve been. I remember things that are not in the game anymore, experiences I will never go through again, and because of those things I am the man I am today. There is a Past to this game that is wholly my own, that no one has experienced as uniquely as I have – you have your Past, which I have never experienced before, and that separate but ultimately real reality shapes your investment into this game.

This reality I’ve shaped by the sum of my experiences and added onto the expectation of experience are also my investment, apart but not unconnected to Time: these are my Memories. Combine the two and you have something that has no monetary value – a Thing of pure emotional investment (for without my joy for the Time I’ve accumulated, it’d be nil) but at the same time something that is very real and very powerful. These are the things we can’t see when we play, one of the many things hidden behind the computer and the face and lodged within the mind and the heart.

I am unashamedly invested in this game. I put forth my effort and my time and I place at stake my reputation on doing certain things within the game. So when I am told that it’s “just a game” and that I “shouldn’t take things to seriously”, I’m at a loss as to how to respond. Am I to take the years I’ve spent and throw them to the wolves to be devoured? (NOTE: There is a very real truth that no one should take any sort of hobby as seriously as the person saying these things means: there are lines that you should never cross with regards to any game or any fandom. Getting upset that you and your friends cannot kill a certain internet dragon? Acceptable. Getting violent in any regards when you and your friends cannot kill a certain internet dragon? Unacceptable, completely and fully.)

For a second, let’s dissect the anatomy of this statement.

“It’s just a game” only comes into play when someone is emotionally charged (negatively or positively) by WoW and is usually said by someone with less investment. For instance: I (called Person A) play this game a total of five hours a week, you (Person B) play more than I do. I have no investment in this game: this is pure relaxation for me and I couldn’t care less if anything unique happens, all I want is to relax and enjoy myself in whatever I do. You, on the other hand, have goals you’d like to accomplish on any number of characters and care whether or not these goals come to fruition. Holding no investment in this game I can say to you, whenever you get upset or too happy, that it’s “just a game” and mean it because it’s exactly how I feel. Shaping this reality for myself, it’s hard to see any other way: this is how I play the game and if you do not play it the same way you are playing it wrong and wasting time. (NOTE: This can happen both ways. Person B plays more and has more investment and sees anything less as a waste of time and less enjoyment. Person A is not getting his money’s worth and should just unsub if this is how he plans on playing. See?) Thus is born the statement.

Despite the genuine feeling behind it, can it even hold water? Literally, yes, this is a game – there will never be any disputing that. Can this game be considered a Way of Life? Certainly: people have, do, and will shape their life to fit around the mold WoW has enforced upon them (raid times, PVP queues/teams, daily quests, reputation grinds, the AH). To the crux of the argument: are any of these things a Bad Thing? Back to our previous example: Person B plays the game for, say, 50 hours a week. To me, the writer of this blog post, this is a number that is far too high and is unhealthy. Who is to say (beyond a licensed professional [and even then it gets grey]) that this is a Bad Thing, though? If they can play that much and still work and lead what society deems a “normal life”, who are they hurting? What difference does it make?

Truth: it doesn’t. It really, really does not. Because you only raid does not mean the person who only PVPs is wasting their time. More to the point, just because someone takes this game seriously as a hobby does not mean they are wasting time or live in their parent’s basement (though this is true for some and is only sad on a case-by-case basis). It means one thing: they enjoy something you enjoy but in a different capacity, shaped by different emotions and experiences. How, really, are any of us different? We play WoW, we enjoy the game, and we actively lurk or write blogs about them.

Can the fucking division in this universe cease? Please?

Hello world!

Hello. I am going to be performing an experiment.

As luck would have it, this experiment involves playing a lot of World of Warcraft and writing about it. (Nothing strenuous here, no sir, not from me.) Specifically it involves playing a druid (spec’d Feral to tank) and leveling him through the Dungeon Finder.

Why, you may ask?

A number of reasons: I love bears. I really do. As a tanking class, I love the fierceness of tanking with no heavy plate armor, no shield, no gleaming swords: only your claws, your powerful bite, and your thick fur stand between the hulking boss before you and your squishy friends. You growl, they listen. Your roar intimidates even the greatest of dragons. From your claws drip destruction: a fury more righteous than any paladin, more bestial than any warrior, more blood-caked than any death knight. You are, singularly, the Tank. Your body is your weapon, and you wield it with extreme mastery. (I just got chills, guys, feel my arms.)

But there exists a problem greater than any one person’s love for a class/spec: bears are damn hard to tank as while leveling. Our AE is very silly until we get Thrash at 81 (limited to tab-targeting on a level no other tank has to deal with), our defense is paper-thin until we get our critical dodge talents around the 30th/50th level, and our fundamental “tanking buttons” (Frenzied Regeneration, Barkskin, Survival Instincts, etc.) do not come into play until very high levels. Up until these three things are remedied, tanking on a bear can be hard, requiring more attentiveness and a sharp eye to keep threat on more than three targets. The learning curve is far too high for newer players, in essence.

So… exactly how hard is it to bear tank at a low-level? As much as I can guess, I don’t know. That’s why I’m starting this experiment, to see how far the ball has been dropped on low-level bear tanking or to see how out of proportion the experience has been made into.

I’m starting a new druid, no heirlooms, no gold, no powerleveling, on my home server,  Earthen Ring-US. (Edit: Pazdingo has been made.)

CRITICAL FINAL NOTE: There won’t be anything brain-wrenchingly new on this blog, or even anything remotely new. Everything I say, have said, or will say has been done before by people smarter than I am, with degrees in World of Warcraft Theorycraft. If you’re looking for in-depth analysis on bears, tanking “rotations” or stat priorities, or anything hereby deemed Smart, I encourage you to check elsewhere. All I can give is my impressions of mechanics, encounters, and tanking tips. Someday soon I will compile a list of blogs/resources that know far more about bear tanking than I do, with the hopes that anyone searching online can find what they are looking for.

Thank you, and welcome to Tusks&All!

OHAI! o/

- Paz